Joint Reviews explores the space where culture and drugs intersect, rejecting holier-than-thou art critiques. Naturally, everything gets better after smoking weed first.
When reviewing weed, it’s difficult to think of bad things to say, especially when you’re dealing with medical-grade pot. Sure, I wafted the signature berry aroma of Strawberry Cough, the smell rising from its open pouch; I closely examined the way the sticky Sativa buds clung to my fingertips while breaking it up.
But after a while, you just end up sitting on a couch talking to a pillow. And it feels pretty good.
That’s why the user strain reviews on Leafly (a weed community) are mostly five-stars, containing crucial details like “Shit, I’m high,” or “I like weed.”
The same can be said for reviews on Jamie xx’s new record In Colour. For months, an EP release and early singles hinted at something special, whether in the form of “Gosh,” the euphoric album opener, or “Loud Places,” the collaboration with Romy Croft.
So before I got high as balls to listen to it, I remembered that the question wasn’t if In Colour would be a good record (it is), but rather, is this going to be the record of the summer? I rolled a joint brimming with Strawberry Cough and walked around Manhattan to find out.
In Colour x Strawberry Cough
Ah, Joint Reviews—a time to truly focus on the important things in life: weed and music. I meandered down a side-street near St. Mark’s place. It’s not easy to smoke a joint on the streets without getting odd looks, even in a city with rapidly liberalizing views on grass, now a decriminalized substance (unless you’re a minority).
It’s easier at nightfall, though. I tucked myself away in a historic cut-out of balmy open air, trees, and gravestones. It smells like summer beneath an overhanging oak—weed smoke and summer always complement one another nicely.
I make my way past preserved graves from the 1800s as “Gosh” ascends into stirring chords—Jamie xx always finds a way to inject beautiful melodies into rave minimalism, a tool he’s perfected with The xx.
The sounds of his proper band are all over this album, with a total of three collaborations by members Oliver Sim and Romy Croft—”Stranger In A Room” with Sim teases an incredible new sound. But In Colour is really about Jamie xx cutting loose, and exploring paths not contained in The xx schematic.
With a massive influx in popularity of late, Jamie xx was poised to bring the grittiness of U.K. rave music to the American mainstream, an electronic market dominated by TURN DOWN FOR WHAT bullshit.
I ponder this while jotting notes, my dilapidated notepad bends against a stoop. I reek of weed. Two girls walk by and roll their eyes at me while “Obvs” plays. Obviously.
As the album progresses in many pretty rises and falls of synthy escapism (“Girl” / “Just Saying”), the old English restraint of Jamie xx proves increasingly apparent. Maybe I’m just an impatient American, but fuck, I just want a drop. A big, stupid drop. “Hold Tight” is a jam, but the record needs something to validate Jamie xx to the dopamine-addicted masses and instill him as a popular artist.
It could be done artfully, and if anyone has the chops to do it, it’s Jamie xx. But, for some reason—in between Steve Aoki’s cake-faced fuckery and fluffy-clad hedonists—drops became awfully superficial. It’s sad. And I wish Jamie xx had the balls to challenge that perception in a pop crossover record.
However, in the form of released tension, we do get “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times),” the rousing summer jam featuring (amazingly) rapper Young Thug. This track is glorious. As I walk through the city, neon lights surround me in one ethereal, futuristic world.
By now, the Sativa head-rush from the Strawberry Cough takes over, and maybe I’m just feeling sentimental (see: stupidly high), but In Colour sounds like the future. Electronic rave music that appeals to a greater audience, as we move together into this flashy, HD world of Millennial culture, an ideology taking over the U.S. Even motherfuckers in rural New York are wearing Converse and shit.
I don’t know where I’m going with that.
In Colour may show restraint, but for now, that works just fine. In my hazy cloud I believe Young Thug—this summer, there’s going to be good times.